NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — One local university is putting a different meaning behind virtual learning.
Tennessee State University is offering courses in competitive video gaming also known as eSports.
TSU announced Monday the campus will be getting an Academic eSports Center set to open on the main campus this fall.
TSU’s SMART Innovation Technology Center will oversee the new center, which seeks to promote pathways and increase diversity in STEM and STEAM programs for underserved students.
"It crosses all disciplines, whether you're in computer science and you're coding the game or designing, communication, broadcasting, business education," says Dr. Robbie Melton, associate vice president of the SMART Innovation Technology Center and Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies at Tennessee State University.
In a press release, a TSU spokesperson says leaders at historically black colleges and universities say it’s not all about fun and games, and believe eSports is a steppingstone to jobs and internships for students.
"Whether you are in preschool playing Pokemon, or you are a senior citizen playing Fortnite we try to bring in academic eSports," Melton said, "We are behind the scenes, looking at the psychology, the technology, the innovation of game playing of entrepreneurship, managing, coaching."
TSU has launched esports classes and joined esports organizations and leagues that will allow students to improve their gaming skills, as well as network with tech companies.
A starting salary in eSports management is around $67,000 according to sites like Zip Recruiter.
"We wanted to go beyond the first shooter, so we have eSports for golf, coming up racing, hockey, even gymnastics."
Melton says it's not all fun and games.
"We are offering this fall certificates, as well as moving into a minor, and soon to be what you and everyone else would go, what, How about programming in eSports," she said.
This Fall, Esports course for undergraduates, as well as graduates will be available.
Classes that will be offered this fall through TSU’s new Academic eSports Center include “Academic eSports Pathways to STEAM” and “The Rise of eSports and Gamification in PreK-Higher Education”.
Also offered will be current eSports Team programs such as FIFA, Call of Duty, Fortnite, NBA 2K, and Madden. Launching new this fall will be NHL, Rocket League, Track and Field, Valorant, Golf, Hockey, and iRacing.
More than 170 colleges and universities are members of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) and offer officially recognized varsity eSports programs.
NACE is a nonprofit membership association organized by and on behalf of our member institutions and is the largest member association of varsity esports programs at colleges and universities across the U.S.
East Tennessee State University, Cumberland University, Tennessee Wesleyan University, Milligan University and King University – Tennessee also offer eSports programs at the varsity level.